Panagia Tsambika is very dear to my heart. After two years of unsuccessfully trying to fall pregnant, I was told by my Godmother to visit a sacred monastery on the island of Rhodes, which is known to help couples conceive.
On a hot 38 degrees day in August of 2011, my husband and I walked up 300 steps to the small monastery, where we said our prayers. As I walked away, I promised myself to keep the faith, trust in Panagia (Virgin Mary), and left it in the hands of God. The second time we visited this holy site was in July of 2013 when we came back to Rhodes to baptise our beautiful little miracle.
The trip to Tsampika Monastery requires a turn off the main road, which is just a bit before Tsambika Beach. This leads you halfway up a hill where you can park your car (there is a small shop here) and walk up the remaining part. From there you’ll find 300 wide steps (around 500 metres in total) so if you visit during summer, we suggest getting there early or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat. Also, make sure you wear comfortable shoes and carry a bottle of water with you to keep hydrated.
When you reach the top, you will discover the tiny Byzantine Monastery dedicated to Panagia Tsambika. It’s perched at an altitude of 240 metres and offers some truly spectacular views of the coast.
The Miracle of the Holy Icon
Centuries ago the icon of Panagia Tsambika was located at the Holy Monastery of Panagia Kykkos in Cyprus. Miraculously, the icon would leave Cyprus and arrive at the mountain Zambiki of the Archangel in Rhodes. On the opposite side, a humble shepherd saw a light shining, so he climbed the mountain and went to see what was there. He was amazed this light came from the icon of Panagia. It was from this point that the icon received its name ‘tsamba’ which in local dialect means ‘spark.’ The locals brought the icon back to the village, but it would leave and return to the spot it was found. After three repeated attempts, they figured it was the will of Panagia to have a church built at this exact spot.
Praying to Panagia Tsambika for Fertility
One of the oldest miracles associated with Panagia Tsambika is tied to a Turkish Pasha whose wife was unable to fall pregnant. Learning of Panagia Tsambika, his wife prayed to her and ate the wick, which burned the fire of the vigil lamp before the holy icon. Soon thereafter she fell pregnant. The Pasha did not believe it and assumed the baby was from another man. When the baby was born, it held within its hand the wick the mother had swallowed. As a thank you, the Pasha gave all his property to the Monastery.
Panagia Tsambika is now visited each year by thousands and thousands of pilgrims from around the world. Most are couples (both Greek and non-Greek) who have struggled to conceive and others praying for family and friends.
The Monastery Up Top
It’s not known when the old monastery was founded, but a monk helped reconstruct the site in 1770.
After walking through a small gate, you are able to light a candle before entering an open space featuring a large icon of Panagia Tsambika holding Baby Jesus. The icon is surrounded by small dolls and photos of children- all in honour of those in need of healing. Here you will also find a book where you are able to write prayers and names of family members and friends who you wish to receive a blessing from Panagia Tsambika. Towards the back, there is also a small room adorned with more icons and privacy to pray.
The New Church
A bit further out, on the road connecting Archangelos village to Rhodes Town, you will discover a new monastery dedicated to Panagia Tsambika- this also deserves a visit. Featuring many 19th-century religious artifacts, the actual miraculous icon is also kept here for security reasons. It’s also home to a museum and bookstore for those wanting to purchase icons and other ecclesiastical items. Here you can ask for a blessed ribbon and wick that’s given to couples who are trying to conceive.
The Holy Monastery of Panagia Tsambika celebrates its Feast Day on September 8. This is a special day when thousands of pilgrims from Greece and around the world gather to honour the Nativity of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary).
*For more information you can call the Monastery on: 22440 22340
All images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright)